July 21st, 2008

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A beautiful poem!!

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old
may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it's sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young
and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there's never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile
~ e.e. cummings ~
(Complete Poems 1904-1962)
egg stone

Thomas Merton -

Thomas Merton died in 1968.

Here are some of his words.  One wonders what he would say about the affluence today.

I am convinced of the sickness of American affluent society. To bless that sickness as a "temporal value" is something I absolutely refuse to do. Love of "the world" in this case means understanding and love of the millions of people afflicted by the sickness and suffering from it in various ways; compassion for them, desire to liberate them from their obsessions (how can anyone do it? We are all afflicted), to give them some measure of sanity and authenticity.

The error is in rejecting the sick and condemning them along with the sickness.

Thomas Merton. A Search for Solitude. Lawrence S. Cunningham, editor. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996: 198.

ayer's rock -

A Noble Intent!

We want the world to allow the unconditional fulfillment of all our aspirations, and since this does not happen, we fall prey to suffering. Our search for happiness is more often founded on our illusions than on reality. It is pointless to try to shape the world to fit our desires: we must transform our minds.

- Matthieu Ricard

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May it be so!

Editorial from the NY Times

Two Million Acres of Wilderness

Published: July 21, 2008

Congress has an opportunity to add significantly to the nation’s store of protected wilderness — a million new acres at a minimum, and perhaps twice that if everything falls into place. But it must move quickly. This is an election year, with many other distractions, including an economic crisis and soaring fuel prices, and there is not a lot of time left to pass legislation.

So far, this Congress has passed one wilderness bill — setting aside more than 100,000 acres of clear streams, alpine peaks and old-growth forests in Washington State. An additional 900,000 acres of potential wilderness in five states — including 250,000 acres in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains — would be protected in a bill introduced in the Senate last month by Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico.

There are also a dozen other measures at various stages in the legislative process — including several that would protect large areas in California — and these could conceivably push the total to two million.

Wilderness areas are more strictly protected than any other federal lands, including the national parks. Motorized transport and commerce are forbidden, hiking and fishing allowed. The wilderness system now covers about 107 million acres nationwide, about half of it in Alaska, or about 4.8 percent of the nation’s land mass.

The Bush administration has mainly regarded public lands as a commercial asset, exploiting them for resources like natural gas. Gale Norton, the administration’s first interior secretary, actually removed protections the Clinton administration had provisionally given to 2.6 million acres in Utah, while announcing that she had no interest in proposing any new wilderness lands.

Still, the administration has not discouraged Congress from making its own proposals, and President Bush — hoping to improve his slim conservation credentials — has indicated that he will sign bills that reach his desk. It is now up to Congress to get them there.

alan's beach photo

presence -

I open up my journal file from October of 2005.   I don't often re-visit the past, but this foggy, cold day seems like an invitation to look within and back.  Jeff was here, caring for me after surgery, as were Chris and Steve, but Jeff and I had time to play.  We went to the beach.  I look at words that carried me as well as the love and prayers of family and friends.

"Flow with whatever is happening and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate."

-Chang Tzu

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what one endures -

Oakland mother loses second son to gunfire

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mona Hall buried her 22-year-old son in 1992 after he was gunned down in front of her East Oakland home. Now, she's burying her second and only remaining child, who also lost his life to gun violence over the weekend.

Bobby Hall II, 25, was shot and killed at about 11 p.m. Saturday as he visited friends at an apartment on the 6800 block of MacArthur Boulevard in East Oakland. No arrests have been made.

Hall's mother said he was a maintenance man and aspiring rapper who never sold drugs or got into trouble with the law. "To put it bluntly, he wanted a job at a bank," she said today.

Hall and her husband, Bobby Hall Sr., are now reliving the ordeal of having to bury a son. On June 29, 1992, their first-born son, Jesse Hall, 22, was shot and killed as he sat in a car outside the family's home in the Sobrante Park neighborhood in East Oakland.

To help channel her feelings, Mona Hall, 56, wrote a book that came out last year. It's called, "Thru a Mother's Eyes: The Story of Jesse Rahim Hall, My Murdered Child."

She has plans for a second book.

"It's crazy," she said. "We can't believe that we're reliving this nightmare all over again."

Bobby Hall Sr. just celebrated his 60th birthday with his son at his side. Over the weekend, he had to identify his son through a digital photo of the crime scene shown to him by police.

The family has been especially hit hard by violence. In 1993, Mona Hall's nephew was killed after a confrontation that began when a girl's got squirted by a water gun and someone responded by firing a real weapon. In 1994, her brother was gunned down in Sobrante Park.

She had harsh words today for the gun industry.

"As long as the gunmakers are getting their profits, they're going to continue to shell out all these big guns," she said. "And I feel like they have never experienced what we the poor people have experienced down here in the trenches. They apparently have never experienced losing someone like I have, like my family has."

Bobby Hall II was born on Sept. 5, 1982 with a patch of gray hair on the top of his head. Bobby told people, "It's not gray, it's platinum."

When Jesse Hall was gunned down, his brother was especially vigilant as he neared his own 22nd birthday. When Bobby Hall turned 23, he was triumphant and told his mother, "I think I'm going to make it."

"He was ecstatic," his mother said. Now, Mona Hall will have to go through the same grieving process while at the same time deploring the violence that is plaguing her community.

"I'm tired of that," she said. "I'm tired of having to sit down and tell the younger children why their cousin, their brother, their nephew or their uncle isn't here anymore."

alan's flowers

Evening -

It is foggy and cold here, and I sit with the problems and lives of so many.   Even my cat seems sobered by one who came to our home today.

I have been feeling down about the woman who lost two sons.   Usually I am up, but sometimes I do feel overwhelmed by the problems facing individuals and countries, even though my logic says that all this mess can be viewed as a learning experience, that we need something to push against, blah, blah, blah.  

So, I'm feeling a bit down, and dear Stephanie shares this poem.  I eat at this table for now.

“Were I to Teach a Course on God”
by Nancy Shaffer

I would teach God with plates of pomegranates,
Both before they were opened and after.
I would bring wet washcloths.
We would bury our faces and eat-
All that luminescent purple-red,
Those clear bright kernels fitted in tight rows
On small and tumbling hills-
And all that juice, so easily broken,
Sweet and puckery at once.
We would say nothing.

I would teach this way,
With plates of fruit, a knife, many washcloths.
With my eyes very large; my mouth mostly silent,
So all might eat.